This is what she said:
"Katie, here is our problem- old farm house remodel! Only closets we have are the bedroom closets! And the bedrooms are upstairs so no one ever wants to go up to get anything and there's zero money for new furniture! Coats hang on hooks, top shelf acts as catch all for kids' current art projects, second shelf everyone has boots and a pair of shoes, bottom shelf has blankets for in the TV room, and underneath are my weights."
First of all, I told Mandy that the changing table set up didn't really look THAT bad. It is definitely very functional and orderly, given what it is. I think I personally would have a hard time keeping an open unit like that looking half as neat though. You all know I love CLOSED storage. I certainly give her kudos for working with what she had on hand to find a great solution for their family. We live in such a "disposable society", it's great to see someone recycling.
Still, Mandy was looking for other ideas. So this is what I came up with:
Armoire. My first thought was since she does not have an entryway closet, which would be ideal for this type of stuff, then she should get an armoire and repurpose it to serve as a closet. All you'd have to do is install a hanging rod inside just about any armoire and there you go!
I think I saw this once in a Real Simple magazine and LOVED the idea.
I suggested she use baskets on shelves or a hanging sweater organizer, as shown in the photo above, on the right, to corral hats, shoes, gloves. We had one of those hanging sweater organizers in our "Mini Mudroom" closet for a while and really loved it. I took it down on whim and packed it up in the attic but the more I think about it, I'd like it back in there. We would keep items handy that needed to go out the door with us, like keys, sunglasses, library books, etc.
Mandy could also install hooks on the back of the armoire or inside the armoire doors for bookbags. She could also hang a mirror on the inside of the door for a quick peak as you walk out the door.
An armoire could completely transform this space. It would be the coat closet they'd always wished they had.
Storage Ottoman or Bench. Another option would be to purchase an inexpensive storage ottoman (like the one mentioned in this post from Young House Love). Or purchase an inexpensive bench with room for storage baskets underneath and set up a "mini mudroom" under the mirror with hooks that Mandy already owns, kind of like this one from House*Tweaking.
Still, I understand that all of these options so far would cost money, and that is not always easy to come by. So, I told Mandy that if I were her, I'd rack my brain to see if I could come up with some cash for this transformation.
If I were her, I'd consider selling the changing table (and any thing else around the house that I don't like or need anymore) in a yard sale or on Craigslist. I would be sure to search my home for items that could bring the most money so that I would be more apt to round up the cash for something I really wanted - a functional piece of furniture that would really brighten our day every time we can in the door.
Also, like I've seen on the Nate Berkus Show before, it's a great idea to look at your monthly budget and see if there's anywhere you can carve out a few extra dollars (cut the cable, clip grocery coupons, etc.) to make these kinds of projects possible. Even if you can just save $10 a month, after 6 months, you've got $60 to throw at home projects. I think it is very important to create a warm, inviting, functional space that you and your family will love. And if that means sacrificing in some other areas, that might be worth it. You just have to decide for your family.
I estimated that Mandy might be able to get $40 for her changing table on Craigslist and then I did a quick search in her area and found a couple really nice armoires for $125-200. Here's the one for $125.
Solid wood, originally $600. Can't beat that! A quick Craigslist search also yielded a couple used storage ottomans for $40-$65 in her area. And I picked up our brand new leather storage ottoman from Target for $50 on sale.
Now, moving onto a few more ideas that wouldn't require as much cash. . .
Use free scrap materials. Another option would be to re-use scrap materials like wood from pallets or previous building projects to create a custom shoe storage dresser or bench of some sort. There are tons of plans available on ana-white.com.
According to her site, this amazing option can be built for $20-$50. It's very similar to the HEMNES shoe dresser from IKEA.
Upcycled Baskets. Yet another option would be to simply add some decorative baskets with cute labels to the diaper changing table. In fact, you could even wrap cardboard boxes (even diaper boxes!) in wrapping paper or fabric for a really cheap custom storage option.
Have one basket for shoes, one for weights, one for art, etc.
Free Tip. Also, consider hanging the mirror with hooks a bit higher on the wall so the bottoms of the coats don't brush the top of the changing table. That would go a long way in making it look neater. Of course, I don't know if all members of the family would be able to hang up their coats, then...
So, what do you guys think? Do you like some of these ideas? Does anyone else have any great suggestions for Mandy? Or are you inspired to go clean up your entry way?
Please email me if you, too, have a problem area in your home. I'd love an opportunity to help brainstorm some solutions!